Only two active players remain from the 2003 NBA Draft, and both are with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron James was the number one pick, and he became an MVP and a champion.
Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony heard his name called two spots after James.
He became one of the best scorers in the league and participated in the playoffs multiple times.
Where would the Lakers be without Carmelo Anthony this season?
Melo is shooting 46.1% from three on 6.4 attempts per game this season.
He’s the only Laker with 40+ 3P% (min 10 attempts). pic.twitter.com/EycA9JRUzX
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 22, 2021
However, he remained in James’ shadow because he couldn’t lead his teams to a title.
He also received constant criticism about being a ball hog throughout his career.
But that aspect of Anthony’s game is long gone.
His willingness to adjust prolonged his career and gave him an irreplaceable role.
Change Of Heart
Even if his numbers were going down, there was a time when Anthony vehemently declared that he wouldn’t play off the bench.
This conviction prompted the Houston Rockets to part ways with him.
At that time, Anthony played only ten games for Houston and averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Eventually, the Rockets traded him to the Chicago Bulls, who then waived him.
For the first time in his career, Anthony was not a part of any NBA team.
The Lakers have a top 5 offence when Carmelo Anthony is on the floor, and the worst offence in the league when he sits. pic.twitter.com/yeSU3o6JOv
— Basketball Forever (@Bballforeverfb) November 17, 2021
However, the Portland Trail Blazers made a pitch he couldn’t refuse.
They focused their selling point on giving him a chance to resurrect his legacy but as a reserve.
He bought into that role, and he was back in the NBA.
Anthony realized that he was not the same player that could consistently drop 30 points per game.
Instead, he embraced being the guy that brings instant offense.
Carmelo Anthony will always have New York and the Knicks in his heart ❤️ pic.twitter.com/4kIvZLy92v
— Knicks Nation (@KnicksNationCP) November 24, 2021
There’s less pressure on him because he’s not the main man anymore.
But despite the reduced minutes, Anthony rediscovered his passion for the game after being away from it all.
Opponents still can’t leave him open because he can light it up from the perimeter.
He’s getting his points but without forcing his shots.
His Quest For A Title Continues
Anthony continues to be a steady contributor in his 19th NBA season.
He cherishes the role of being the sniper, as proven by his career-high 46.1 percent from the three-point line.
That clip increases to 53.2 percent when he’s playing at home.
Anthony ignited the bench scoring in 16 of the Lakers’ 19 games by averaging 15.2 points per game, even if he’s taking only 11 shots.
Sometimes I randomly think about how Carmelo Anthony was almost forced to retire, and then came back to be a legitimately impactful player for now a third straight season. Then I wonder if any teams recognize that the exact same story could possibly be written by Isaiah Thomas.
— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 20, 2021
He has also led the league at one point with 47 catch-and-shoot three-pointers.
Those numbers make him a frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year early in the 2021-22 NBA season.
Despite his limited minutes, Anthony is making a ton of difference every time he plays.
The Lakers are 7-2 every time he scores at least 15 points.
Melo really going off this year 👌 pic.twitter.com/FsCNOLoXo9
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 21, 2021
Los Angeles is also averaging 108.6 points per 100 possessions if he’s on the court.
That’s an 11-point differential from the team’s 97 average when he’s on the sideline.
Without question, Anthony’s current playing style makes him a viable scorer over the next few seasons.
But for now, the Lakers need him if they want to win the franchise’s 18th NBA championship.